Today’s reading: Lamentations 3:37-5.
Sin will take you farther than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay, and cost you more than you want to pay.
According to Charles Finney, sin is the most expensive thing in the universe. “If it is forgiven sin,” he said, “it cost God His only Son… If it is unforgiven sin, it cost the sinner his soul and an eternity in hell.” The people of Judah and Israel found out how expensive it is; they lost everything. Jeremiah saw it happen firsthand and gave a detailed description of sin’s high cost.
Our skin is hot as an oven, feverish from hunger. Women have been ravished in Zion, and virgins in the towns of Judah. Princes have been hung up by their hands; elders are shown no respect. Young men toil at the millstones; boys stagger under loads of wood. The elders are gone from the city gate; the young men have stopped their music. Joy is gone from our hearts; our dancing has turned to mourning. The crown has fallen from our head. Woe to us, for we have sinned! Lamentations 5:11-16
We lose what we hold dear. Family, friends, home, work – all these and more can be lost due to sin. It separates us from God’s blessings. It exposes us to Satan’s attacks. It alienates us from those we love.
We suffer poverty. Sin is expensive because it makes everything else cost more. For the people of Jerusalem, all of their basic necessities – food, water, wood – became costly or unavailable. Today, it might mean you pay out more for rent, alimony, medical expenses, or lawyer’s fees.
We find no rest. Guilt from within, and the attacks of those we have harmed from without, will chase away our sleep and rob us of leisure until we repent.
Our sin harms our children. Though God doesn’t hold children accountable for the sins of their parents and grandparents, those younger generations can still suffer the consequences of their elders’ mistakes. Broken families, emotional trauma, poverty, depression, and shame are some of the costs children must pay because of the sins of others.
We become enslaved. We lose control of our lives. Addictions become our master, or sometimes the court system takes over and tells us what to do. When whole nations sin, it can lead to repressive governments or domination by foreign countries.
We lose our joy. The singing and dancing stop. The music in our homes and in our hearts goes away. In its place there is mourning.
Our health suffers. Sin causes poor health directly and indirectly. It can be as direct as damage from drugs or sexually transmitted disease, or as indirect as the slow decay of shame and guilt. It can bring discipline from God or attacks from Satan that weaken us. Jeremiah saw faint hearts and eyes that grew dim.
This isn’t an exhaustive list, but it was one man’s reality. Neither Jeremiah nor his countrymen could afford the high price of their sins. You and I can’t afford the price of our sins. They are infinitely expensive because, ultimately,they are sins against an infinite God. Even so, Jeremiah remained hopeful. He believed in the grace of God, and saw a coming day when the LORD would restore and renew his wayward people. We know that God paid that infinite debt of sin by the sacrificial death of his own son. Unfortunately, we forget that Jesus’ death doesn’t stop the consequences of sin. That cost remains a debt that all sinners, and those close to them, must still pay.
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